Following the hike in auto fares that came into effect on December 20, some auto commuters in the city are reconsidering their options for other transport, not because of the rise in price, but because of the possibility of being over charged beyond their capacity.
“The distance from the metro to my home is around 3 kms but I’m charged `70 by the auto drivers for that distance. None of them come if I don’t agree to pay that much. The problem is not the hike, they never use the metre anyway so how much will I be overcharged after this rise?,” asked Devi Haridas. The chartered accountant added that the autos around IT parks and employment centres charge an exorbitant amount because they assume the employees there can afford the high fares. “I would rather take a cab which costs more because I know they will go by the meter. Prepaid system around these areas should help with this problem,” she suggested.
Shashank Shivkumar, a college student similarly opined that a regular demand for ‘metre mele 20’, with a refusal to put the metre on is an issue. He said, “The reasons they give are that either it’s late, nobody’s going to take an auto from here or that there is too much traffic. I switched from bus to auto because it wasn’t time consuming and costed only `20 more. But if they charge more than the actual price now, citing the price hike as an excuse, I’m going back to buses. Anyone who is on a budget will get hit by this.”
While it is yet to be seen whether buses recorded a significant increase in passengers, given that it is natural for another mode of transport to experience changes when there is a price rise, an operator with Ola Cabs said that the calls he received over the weekend were more compared to previous weekends.
Confident that the price rise wouldn’t affect business, M Manjunath, President of Adarsh Auto Association said that mutual respect would help build loyalty and that only those who take a regular route with a group might switch to cabs, “Cabs have a minimum charge to travel. An auto is still the cheapest means of travel and if the behaviour of the driver is good, they will continue to take it.”
Justifying the price rise, he added that the fares they collect on a day are their only means of living and their increase in wages from Rs 300 to Rs 500 a day should help battle the rising cost of living in the city.